« PreviousContinue »
CHAP. II. thirteen, in which they say, “ the house are 1768. humbly of opinion that a requisition from the Juie 30 throne of this nature to a British house of
commons has been very unusual, perhaps there has been no such precedent since the revolution. If this be the case, some very aggravated representations of this measure must have been made to his majesty, to induce him to require of this house, to rescind a resolution of a former house, upon pain of forfeiting their existence; for, my lord, the house of representatives duly elected, are con. stituted by the royal charter, the representative body of his majesty's faithful commons of this province in the general assembly.”
They defend, in strong and manly, but decent terms, their circular letter; and then proceed to say, “an attempt, my lord, to impress the royal mind with a jealousy of his faithful subjects, for which there are no just grounds, is a crime of the most malignant nature, as it tends to disturb and destroy that mutual confidence between the prince and the subject which is the only true basis of public happiness and security. Your lordship, upon inquiry, may find that such base and wicked attempts have been made.”
After stating the inexpressible grief of the people of the province, to find repeated censures falling on them “not from ministers of state alone, but from majesty itself,” and saying
that there was "no evil in life which they felt CHAP. II. more sensibly than the displeasure of their 1768. sovereign,” they state their proceedings relative to the circular letter, so as to show the propriety and regularity of their conduct on that subject; and say that “the house humbly rely on the royal clemency, that to petition his majesty will not be deemed by him to be inconsistent with a respect to the British constitution, as settled at the revolution by William III.' that to acquaint their fellow subjects involved in the same distress, of their having so done, in full hopes of success, even if they had invited the union of all America in one joint supplication, would not be discoun. tenanced by our gracious sovereign, as a measure of an inflammatory nature. That when your lordship shall in justice lay a true state of these matters before his majesty, he will no longer consider them as tending to create unwarrantable combinations, or excite an unjustifiable opposition to the constitutional authority of parliament; that he will then truly discern, who are of that desperate faction which is continually disturbing the public tranquillity; and that, while his arm is extended for the protection of his distressed and injured subjects, he will frown upon all those, who,
e Prior documents.
Assembly of Massachussetts dissolved.
CHAP. II. to gratify their own passions, have dared to 1768. attempt to deceive him.”
The question was then put, whether the house would rescind the resolution on which their circular letter was founded? and it passed in the negative by a majority of ninety-two to seventeen.
A letter to the governor was then prepared, stating their motives for refusing to comply with the requisition to rescind their resolution, immediately after receiving whích they were prorogued, and the next day they were dissolved by proclamation.
While the opposition was thus conducted by the legislature with temperate firmness, and with the use only of legitimate means, the general irritation occasionally broke out in the town of Boston in acts of violence, denoting · evidently that the body of the people, at least
in that place, were prepared for much stronger measures than their representatives had pursued.
The seizure of the sloop Liberty, belonging to mr. Hancock, by the collector and comptroller of the customs, occasioned the assemblage of a tumultuous mob, who beat the officers and those who assisted them, took possession of a boat belonging to the collector which they burnt in triumph, and patrolled the streets for a considerable length of time. The revenue officers, fearing for their safety, took refuge, first on board the Romney man of war, and
Seizure of the sloop
afterwards in castle William. After a consi. CHAP. II. derable length of time had elapsed, the governor 1768. moved the council to take into consideration some measure for restoring vigour and firmness to government. To this application the council made a reply, in which they state, “ that the disorders which happened were occasioned by the violent and unprecedented manner in which the sloop Liberty had been seized by the officers of the customs.” And the inhabitants of Boston, in a justificatory memorial, supported by affidavits, say, "the principal occasion of the late tumults arose from the haughty conduct of the commissioners and other officers appointed by them. The Romney man of war, having moored before the town, intimidated the coasting vessels bringing provisions, fire wood, &c. committed many acts of violence and outrage, and in particular, by cutting away a vessel from mr. Hancock's wharf, detaining her several days, without any legal proceeding filed against her, &c. This irritated the people, who patrolled the streets in a tumultuous manner, broke several windows to the value of about five pounds sterling, burnt a pleasure boat belonging to the collector and then dis. persed at about eleven o'clock at night.”
CHAP. I. A petition, presented to the governor by the 1768inhabitants assembled in a town meeting a few
days after this event, praying the removal of the Romney, after representing the grieyances of which the people complained, and the remonstrances which had been transmitted to parlia. ment, and the petitions to the throne, proceeds to state that they had waited the effect of these applications with the greatest attention to the public peace, until they found themselves in. vaded with an armed force, seizing, impressing, and imprisoning the persons of their fellow subjects, contrary to express acts of parliament.
Menaces, they said, had been thrown out fit only for barbarians, which already affected them in a most serious manner, and threatened them with famine and desolation; as all navigation was obstructed, upon which alone their whole support depended, and the town was, at that crisis, in a situation nearly such as if war was formally declared against it.
Although the people thus justified, or rather excused this act of violence, the legislature did not think proper to afford it their countenance. A committee of both houses appointed to inquire into the state of the province, after reprobating in their report the circumstances attending the seizure, to which they attribute the mob which was collected, declare their utter abhorrence and detestation of a procedure which they pronounce to be very criminal; and desire the